Posted: Wed 8th Jul 2020

Health Board to pay former chief exec £188,000 while he works for English health trust

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2020


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North Wales’ struggling health board will pay its former boss at least £188,000 – while he works on secondment in England.

Former Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) chief executive Gary Doherty left on February 9 to take up a role as director of integration at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Health board accounts reveal he was paid £29,592 from the day he left Betsi to the end of the financial year on March 31.

His secondment is due to end in January next year by which time Betsi will have paid him at least £188,000, if the rate remains the same.

At the same time the health board will also be paying Mr Doherty’s interim replacement, Deputy Welsh NHS Chief Executive Simon Dean

A BCUHB spokeswoman said the deal was “in the best interest” of the organisation.

But North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd accused the health board of “rewarding failure”.

Mr Doherty took charge of BCUHB in January 2016 – seven months after the Welsh Government placed the health board in Special Measures.

Interviewed weeks after his appointment, he said getting rid of delays and getting people working as a team was “not rocket science”. 

But Mr Doherty left on February 9 this year with the health board still in Special Measures and was replaced the following day by Mr Dean.
Health board accounts reveal the cost of Mr Dean’s secondment to Betsi totalled £50,495 between February 10 and March 31.

That included a salary of £29,592 – the same as Mr Doherty’s – plus pension costs of £8,571, national Insurance costs of £3,917 and non-recoverable VAT of £8,415.
The board is now paying two people at a pro-rata rate of around £210,000-a-year for the same role and by the end of Mr Doherty’s secondment he will have earned more than £1m from his time with Betsi.

The board’s executive director of workforce and organisational development, Sue Green, said: “The decision to support Gary Doherty’s secondment was made by the Health Board after carefully considering the best interest of the organisation and value for money.

“This secondment is in place until January 2021. Any costs to the Health Board associated with the secondment will be published in our annual report later this year.”
There is nothing in the BCUHB accounts to suggest the health board will be reimbursed by Mr Doherty’s new employer in Lancashire and Betsi refused to say whether they would receive any money back from the English trust for his services.

His predecessor Trevor Purt, suspended after the board was put into special measures in June 2015, received a year’s wages (£200,000) from the board after being relieved of his post and also put on “secondment” – as an advisor to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mr Purt’s temporary successor was also Mr Dean.

Mr Gruffydd said: “BCUHB has an unfortunate track record of rewarding failure when it comes to recent chief executives.
“I don’t understand why a senior manager who was asked to leave his post has been paid to go to work elsewhere when that money could and should be invested in training and recruiting frontline staff.

“Was the Welsh Government aware of this deal with the outgoing chief executive?”

That question was put to Health Minister Vaughan Gething along with whether he felt health care executive contracts and severance pay should be looked at again.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Decisions on employment are operational matters for health boards to make.”

The accounts also reveal Betsi paid out more than £2.2m-a-month on agency staff during the financial year 2019-20 – including more than £350,000 to Interim Recovery Director Phillip Burns.

Dubbed ‘Marbella Man’ after it emerged he worked from his home on the Costa Del Sol for at least one day a week, he earned £1,990-a-day during his temporary contract.
The accounts show he banked £353,450, plus another £16,888 in expenses, before his contract was ceased two months early on April 21 this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Gruffydd added: “The £26.8m annual cost of temporary staff hasn’t reduced significantly over the past few years and this should be a source of real concern for the Welsh Government, which has had direct control of the health board for the past five years.
“This period of special measures has recently seen the employment of dozens of management consultants, including the infamous ‘Marbella Man’ Philip Burns who was employed as an interim Recovery Director for nine months – at £40,000-a-month.”

Mr Gruffydd said there was still no evidence of what Mr Burns and other management consultants had done to turn around the ailing health board, saying his focus was on having “enough frontline staff to provide the care that’s needed here in North Wales”.
He added: “I’m unconvinced Welsh Government has a plan to recruit, retain and train enough nurses, midwives, doctors and other key workers in the NHS locally and that’s frankly a disgrace.”

The £26.8m spent on agency staff, including nursing staff and clinical staff, during the last financial year equates to 3% of Betsi’s annual wage bill of £811m.
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB remains under scrutiny for leadership and governance, maternity services, mental health, re-connecting with the public, finance, planning and waiting time performance.

Maternity services and out of hours primary care services have been “de-escalated” as Special Measures concerns.

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter

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